Pregnancy test (urine hCG)
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A human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) urine test is a pregnancy test.
A pregnant woman’s placenta produces hCG, also called the pregnancy hormone. If you’re pregnant, the test can usually detect this hormone in your urine about 10 days after your first missed period. This is when the fertilized egg attaches to the uterine wall. During the first 8 to 10 weeks of pregnancy, hCG levels normally increase very rapidly. These levels reach their peak at about the 10th week of pregnancy, and then they gradually decline until delivery.
The hCG urine test confirms pregnancy about one to two weeks after your missed period. This is a qualitative test, which means that it will tell you whether or not it detects the hCG hormone in your urine. It’s not intended to reveal specific levels of the hormone. The presence of hCG in your urine is considered a positive sign of pregnancy.
The only risks associated with an hCG urine test involve getting a false-positive or false-negative result. A false-positive result indicates a pregnancy even though there isn’t one. Rarely, the test may detect abnormal, non-pregnancy tissue, which requires follow-up by a doctor. These results are rare because usually, only pregnant women produce the hCG hormone.
There’s a higher risk of getting a false-negative result. If you get a false-negative result, in which case the test says you aren’t pregnant but you really are, you might not take the precautions necessary to give your unborn baby the best possible start. Such results may occur more commonly in early pregnancy or if the urine is too diluted to detect hCG.
The laboratory test results are NOT to be interpreted as results of a "stand-alone" test. The test results have to be interpreted after correlating with suitable clinical findings and additional supplemental tests/information. Your healthcare providers will explain the meaning of your tests results, based on the overall clinical scenario. Certain medications that you may be currently taking may influence the outcome of the test. Hence, it is important to inform your healthcare provider of the complete list of medications (including any herbal supplements) you are currently taking. This will help the healthcare provider interpret your test results more accurately and avoid unnecessary chances of a misdiagnosis.
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